Hash Over

Big hair hazard

It's little more than a steel-studded brick bunker garnished with bright flashes of pink insulation, but Phil and Janet Cobb, owners of Mi Piaci Ristorante Italiano in Addison, were itching to show off their next restaurant. Salve! Ristorante, a $2.5 million upscale Italian eatery scheduled to open in February on McKinney Avenue at Pearl. It is an ambitious effort -- maybe even a dubious one, what with Palomino Euro Bistro and The Capital Grille just across the street in the Crescent Hotel and a slew of dining spots just up McKinney Avenue. (Of course, first you have to be able to drive up the blockaded, jackhammered street to reach them. It's fun to contemplate the potentially sadistic competitive firepower Phil Cobb possesses as chairman of the McKinney Avenue Transit Authority and the Uptown Improvement District.)

At 9,000 square feet, the 170-seat Salve! aims to bite big into the area's lunch appetite. Cobb projects that Salve! will serve some 250 lunches daily. Mi Piaci does 100. What will be interesting to see is the intensity of Salve!'s pull at dinner, where checks will average in the $32 range (Mi Piaci's is $36). Former Mansion maître d' Wayne Broadwell and former Zodiac Room chef Sharon Hage were brought on board to energize the new venture.

Salve! has another distinguishing feature: an 1,800-square-foot, fully enclosed open-air courtyard that seats 40. It's a sort of doughnut hole in the odd polygonal-shaped structure, one with blanched walls that will no doubt solar-roast lunch crowds a good part of the year. But Cobb says it will have umbrellas. And water misters? "I want to do it, but Janet doesn't want it," he says. "She says it gets women's hair all wet and funny."

Mixed hash

Star Concepts left everyone breathless in Austin. Stephan Pyles, Michael Cox, and company were poised to insert a Star Canyon restaurant into the Stephen F. Austin Hotel, a 189-room luxury hotel scheduled to open early next year in a refurbished circa-1924 landmark. But they abruptly withdrew, stunning folks in the state capital. What's the deal? According to Cox, the project may have caused the company to lose its focus. Star Concepts is in the midst of launching a Dallas Taqueria Cañonita for which Cox hopes to have a lease signed by year's end. "Austin was coming on too fast," he says. "You've got to be careful where you spread your love." He says they'll look at Austin again in a year...Former Toscana chef Daniel Landsberg just filled a slot with Wynnwood Hospitality, where he'll be back working with David Holben, running special event catering operations.

Mark StuertzE-mail Dish at markstz@flash.net.

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